The UK and the US air forces have carried out integrated training and flying exercises with the RC 135 Rivet Joint intelligence gathering aircraft.
The joint activity was conducted as part of the latest iteration of the US Air Force’s (USAF) exercise Red Flag 2023 from Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) in Nevada, US.
It marks the first time an integrated aircrew has operated this aircraft.
The British RC 135 Rivet Joint aircraft fleet is fully integrated into the USAF Rivet Joint fleet and is operated by the 55th Wing based at Offutt AFB, Nebraska.
Royal Air Force’s (RAF) 51 Squadron from RAF Waddington and the USAF’s Offutt AFB-based 343rd Reconnaissance Squadron executed the exercises.
The integrated efforts ensure that the services of both nations have the same aircraft, and the training of associated aircrews is also of the same standards.
This makes the aircrews of the two nations eligible for flying each other’s Rivet Joint aircraft.
RAF 51 Squadron navigator flight lieutenant Wilkes said: “With the high operational tempo of the squadron, the opportunity to conduct such high-intensity training that exercise offers, is extremely valuable.”
As part of the exercise, Rivet Joint’s aircrew was able to directly transmit the gathered intelligence data to other fast jets involved in simulated combat scenarios from the USAF, Navy, Marine Corps, the RAF and the Royal Australian Air Force.
The intelligence data allows the combat forces to understand the aggressor aircraft and other complex simulated ground-based air defence platforms that were simulating peer adversaries during trilateral exercises.
USAF 343rd Reconnaissance Squadron Rivet Joint commander major Marc Ramos said: “The benefit of this integration is that we are all able to share our varied experiences from our collective worldwide operations.”